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Justin Woodward

Chef Justin Woodward
Photo © Susan Seubert

Restaurant: Castagna (Read a review)

Location: Portland, OR

Why He's Amazing: Because he's a vegetable fanatic dedicated to Oregon ingredients, a modern sensibility and the traditions of Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon.

Culinary School: The Art Institute of California (San Diego)

Background: WD-50 (New York City), L'Auberge Del Mar (Del Mar, CA), internships at Noma (Copenhagen) and Mugaritz (San Sebastián, Spain)

Quintessential Dish: Asparagus with sorrel and pine needles

Who Inspired Him to be a Chef: "My father, because he's an awesome cook. He's a businessman and went to lots of different restaurants. He would sometimes come home and try to replicate dishes."

Foraging: Woodward gathers many of the leaves, petals and rare plants that grace his precisely arranged plates from Castagna's sidewalk garden.

Passion Outside Cooking: Mountain biking

His True Love: "I'm obsessed with this career. I love cooking, cleaning vegetables, searing meat, making quenelles of ice cream, searing fish just right. I get shivers just thinking about it. Cutting chives, watching them pop off the blade is instant gratification—a reason to feel good. I'm in the kitchen 16 hours a day. I don't take off my apron and become a different person. I give my entire life to this."

Insider Tip: Be sure to request the off-the-menu dessert flight. Woodward worked under modernist dessert master Alex Stupak at New York City's WD-50, and his sweets are as sublime as they are beautiful.

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